Connect & Collaborate
Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA - ARC Anniversary & Doing Good

Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA - ARC Anniversary & Doing Good

August 31, 2013

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Here at ICOSA we believe in doing well by doing good – and this week’s guest has that concept down to a science. ARC Thrift Stores do so much more, beyond supporting organizations that assist the intellectually and developmentally disabled. They do it by employing the disabled, by keeping 20 million pounds of waste from going into landfills, and by serving the 3.2 million people who shop at ARC’s 22 stores in Colorado. To be fair, that’s only part of the story.

This week Jan Mazotti talks with Frances Owens, former First Lady of Colorado and now the Community Relations Director for ARC Thrift Stores.

arc thrift logo MF14624

ARC celebrates their 45th anniversary this year, culminating in their signature Starfish and Dreams Fundraising Gala, Friday September 20th. This special event honors the many ARC Ambassadors and will feature a fashion review, showcasing ensembles curated only from ARC clothing donations. Mark your calendars for a great celebration!

In the realm of donation based thrift stores, ARC is a gem. Conceived as a great social enterprise to fund programs for the disabled, ARC benefits the community in a myriad of ways. Primarily, ARC’s mission is to raise money in their retail stores, which is then distributed to support agencies for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. ARC is also one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the state of Colorado. By collecting donations of unwanted clothes and household items, ARC is able to divert millions of pounds of waste from Colorado landfills – taking the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra to heart.

ARC also encourages other businesses to hire the disabled for simple job positions. Frances Owens tells us that without these employment opportunities, many disabled adults would be sitting at home, frustrated and watching television. Instead, even the simplest job, provides them a sense of purpose, pride in their work, and the benefit of the socialization that working provides.

Jan Mazotti and Frances Owens at our ICOSA Radio Studio.

Jan Mazotti and Frances Owens at our ICOSA Radio Studio.


To support the disabled in their careers, last year ARC University was established, which offers both fun and educational courses for ARC Ambassadors, on topics such as Financial Literacy, How to Navigate Public Transportation, Music Appreciation, Yoga Classes and even how to tie-dye t-shirts.

Tune in each Saturday at 10:00 AM on  KNUS 710– or download our podcast on the KNUS podcast page.
Connect and Collaborate with ICOSA - Innovative Solutions

Connect and Collaborate with ICOSA - Innovative Solutions

August 24, 2013

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In this week’s Connect & Collaborate we talk with Connie Williams, the General Managing Partner and Chief Knowledge Officer for Synecticsworld which studies how people really create and invent things, what makes them successful and what doesn’t, to develop a clear problem solving approach.

Synecticsworld helps others See with New Eyes to gather insight for marketing and innovative strategy.


Synecticsworld works with organizations and businesses to unleash creativity, enabling them to explore the possibilities of the Synectics Process.
There are more than 50 years of research behind Synecticsworld’s innovative thinking.

Connie says she studies studies how people create and invent things and then helps them to be successful.

By learning about the motivation and of those customers and consumers, she then ties words to that motivation . To understand them and their needs, anticipate what their needs are, before they are consciously aware of it.

Connie describes it as code-cracking – gathering input to get underneath and find out what they really want from a solution and look for new combinations in the day to day.

Tune in each Saturday at 10:00 AM on  KNUS 710– or download our podcast on the KNUS podcast page.
Connect & Collaborate with Icosa - Providing Necessities

Connect & Collaborate with Icosa - Providing Necessities

August 17, 2013

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Providing clean water and proper sanitation to villages in Africa is no small task. In 1995, Charles Banda dedicated himself to the cause, founding Freshwater Malawi to serve his people by supplying safe drinking water and preventing disease among the poorest in his country. 

Jan Mazotti had the honor of meeting and interviewing Mr. Banda last October. This week, we learned that Charles Banda died unexpectedly, after a recent diagnosis of liver cancer. He leaves behind his wife, three children and a legacy of many lives that were saved and changed by his efforts with Freshwater Malawi.



In his honor, we bring you the interview once again. We hope you are inspired by his passion and the incredible work being done to bring clean water to the poorest countries. The organization is widely respected throughout the country, where 24 out of 28 districts have conducted water and sanitation projects. Freshwater Malawi focuses their efforts exclusively in the country of Malawi and Freshwater International helps with support to Malawi and eventually to bring the same efforts and success to other countries. The goal is to address one country at a time, learn from each effort and move on until all of Africa is supplied with safe water and sanitation.

We hope you’ll listen this program and if you are moved, donate to help Freshwater Malawi sustain their efforts.

If you would like to learn more about the Freshwater Malawi project, look for the documentary film Water First: Reaching the Millennium Development Goals which highlights the importance of clean water in relieving poverty and empowering people. You’ll also find an article in ICOSA magazine aboutFreshwater Malawi and maternal/child health.

While many people take safe drinking water for granted, 884 million people worldwide do not have clean water. 40% of rural Malawians rely on unsafe water.


In our second half hour of Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA we return closer to home

It’s the start of a new school year which means parents are scrambling to buy school supplies – and teachers are scanning their budgets to buy school supplies. Many teachers end up spending close to $1000 of their own money each year to supplement classroom supplies.
That’s why, in the second half of today’s show we’re talking with Stephanie Welsh, the Executive Director of RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching).

While RAFT doesn’t necessarily supply pencils and erasers, it is a source for all kinds of materials that inspire hands-on teaching and learning. Although at it’s core, RAFT is about education, sustainability factors in by partnering with other organizations to up-cycle their unwanted materials. In order to stock the RAFT warehouse with items for every conceivable project, they ask us all to look at things we no longer have a need for and find a use for them beyond their intended purpose. Teachers then transform those items to hands-on activities for students.

If you’re wondering what they could use, the answer is everything! They’ll take anything from paper tubes, fabric, foam core to scratched CDs, jewel cases, water bottles and file folders… any standard items that are easily duplicated and sorted. Welsh says, “We haven’t met many things we can’t use.”

As part of her job, Welsh visits various companies and organizations to determine what might be useful…

She says, “When I go out to different companies to see what they could donate they say, “Oh no, we don’t have anything you would want.” and I say, “Well can we just look around your warehouse? Would you mind giving me five minutes? …  People think I’m crazy when I come out, they’re like, “Really? Are you that excited about our trash? I say, “Oh yes! I am!” because it’s not trash. It’s something that has great educational value. We just have to step back and take a different look at it. “

With these assorted supplies, RAFT has created more than 600 activities to inspire teacher and students. RAFT also offers classroom space for professional development, and their mission is to support teachers in common core standards.

That’s meaningful sustainability.

Any educator in the state of Colorado can shop the RAFT warehouse and purchase items at 80% – 90% all the time. Membership is $25 per individual per year,  Groups of ten or more registering at the same time can join for $20 each. A day pass for those uncertain if they’ll be back in Denver is $15.  Reasonable pricing, considering most teachers spend at least $500 of their own money on classroom supplies each year.

Learn more at

Tune in each Saturday at 10:00 AM on  KNUS 710– or download our podcast on the KNUS podcast page.
Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA - Right Person Right Job

Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA - Right Person Right Job

August 10, 2013

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Imagine you’re at work, doing a good job by doing your best – and one day, someone walks into your office and suggests you should be in a different position. You’re an engineer and they want to put you in marketing. Would you think they flipped their lid? Or would you consider it?

The real question is, “What do they see in you?”  Possibly something you’ve never considered.

Michael Simpson, Founder and CEO of Pairin, made that suggestion to an employee. It seemed a bit crazy, but that employee admits it was a fitting change! That situation led Simpson to realize he can help people be placed in the right job, where they feel fulfilled and valued, which is best for their employer as well.

 This week on Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA, Jan Mazotti and Kelly de la Torre talk with Micheal Simpson about how Pairin helps companies find the right employees.

The catch is, the applicant can’t necessarily  make that decision for themselves, because they don’t know the dynamics – the strengths and weaknesses of the company. As Simpson says, “The company needs to be responsible to keep someone out of a job they are not well suited for.”

As if it’s not complicated enough to sift through more than one hundred resumes trying to determine what’s true and what is too good to be true. That’s why many companies turn to Pairin to qualify candidates and help with the interview process.

You’ll have to listen to the entire Connect & Collaborate program to hear how they do it, and how Pairin can help prevent employee turnover and often millions of dollars in training costs for some companies.

Tune in each Saturday at 10:00 AM on  KNUS 710– or download our podcast on the KNUS podcast page.
Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA - Supply Chain Transparency

Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA - Supply Chain Transparency

August 3, 2013

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Every bit of technology and modern convenience we find in our daily lives – from the internal parts of our coffee maker, or clock radio to the precious metals inside an electronic tablet, has a history. A history in the supply chain that leads each part to your home, from such varied and far off distances and circumstances, that if you knew the details, you might have made an entirely different decision. 

But how can you ever know the story? How can you know whether the ingredients that make up your cell phone, for example, came from dangerous places around the world where people die over conflict minerals, or are the minerals are mined in unsustainable ways, or support regimes that are responsible for genocide?

We’ve talked about Corporate Social Responsibility before on Connect & Collaborate  – but today’s program focuses on CSR in the electronics and technology field, something we all can relate to as consumers if not as corporations.  Join Jan Mazotti  and Kelly de la Torre for a conversation with Joe Verrengia, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Arrow, a global provider of electronics and solutions.

Verrengia explains that Arrow doesn’t actually make any particular products. Instead, they source parts to hundreds of thousands of manufacturers and other clients who make the products we purchase. As such, Arrow has an obligation to report the supply chain of  the metals and rare earth minerals that make up each component.

They may come from places that are not friendly to the United States, or that are competitive to us. Or from countries where people have been subject to genocide,

“We have to make sure the money you spend isn’t going to support those regimes.” says Joe Verrengia.

Every sourcing detail must be reported to audit and accounting companies. Beyond that, Arrow maintains self-reporting efforts that examine sustainability efforts through a Global Reporting Initiative.

Recycling initiatives have their own complications.  Much illegal electronics recycling is done in third world countries where young children break components apart with hammers, and melting the precious metals out of the components over open flame which is dangerous for both the environment and those children’s health.

The efforts to uncover the source of all these parts is not only to foster goodwill, but to save lives as well thwart evil regimes. In the end, we the consumers can rest assured that our desire for first world conveniences have not inflicted great cost in third world countries.

Arrow’s efforts are spread here in the U.S. as well – to supporting STEM curriculum and education and funding kits for Boy Scouts who want to earn science and technology merit badges, but can’t afford the materials for those projects.  Involvement in these programs helps kids who are interested in STEM fields while they’re learning, getting them ready for the work force in the future.

Tune in each Saturday at 10:00 AM on  KNUS 710– or download our podcast on the KNUS podcast page.

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